High School Coaches Underpaid
There is minor fame and some glory being a high school coach, and even for many football, baseball and basketball head men, they work with little or no fan fare. It’s even worse for those who coach the minor sports like soccer, tennis, golf, volleyball and swimming, to name but a few.
That’s not to suggest what they’re doing isn’t important, but outside the campus, few are recognized. This changes radically if the person becomes a college head man at a high-profile program, and it’s even more pronounced if he moves onto the professional field.
Why, then, would anyone want to coach high school sports, when the money is horrible, the hours long and there is little or no recognition beyond the boundaries of the school? The answer is that they do it because they love what they’re doing, and the players involved.
I’ve come across several coaches who could do other things with their time beside coach high school sports.
Tony Zarrillo has been involved with Crescenta Valley High athletics, seemingly forever. Always eager with a quip and a quote, Zarrillo had been the head baseball coach, and now mentors the football team. I’ve spoken and interviewed him numerous times, and he’s told me he coaches because he enjoys the competition.
Recently retired Hoover baseball coach Jim Delzell was the same way. He cherished being involved with the game, knowing full well that it wasn’t big-time college or professional baseball. That didn’t matter. What did was that it was baseball. When I’d approach Delzell a half-hour before the first pitch, he’d be just as excited to chat as coach. I’m sure Delzell didn’t need to be a head coach but rather wanted the position, and that’s why prep coaches are a unique breed. If money and fame were the motivating factors, there would be very few.
That’s why it was nice to read that Chuck Daly, the two-time champion Detroit Pistons’ mentor and head man of the original “Dream Team,” and who recently passed away, began his career in Pennsylvania at the high school level. It’s fine that Daly went on and had a Hall of Fame run at the professional level, but it’s also important to note he was humble enough to start his stint coaching youngsters.
Bill Redell is a longtime high school football coach, and had stints at Crespi, St. Francis and now Oaks Christian, where he tutored current Notre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Even though Redell, who also coached the brilliant running back Russell White, spent time in the now-defunct United States Football League, he had more fun working with the preps. That says a great deal about Redell’s character, and it says something about the value we should place on high school sports.
Having dreams and aspirations are fine, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that many of the game’s top coaches like Vince Lombardi and John Wooden began their calling at the lowest rung.